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Digital Archive International History Declassified

1977

BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY ANALYSIS OF FOREIGN PROPAGANDA AGAINST BULGARIA

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    This document provides a detailed content analysis of the programs of individual Western broadcasters. It indicates particular sensitivity to broadcasts on Helsinki-related human rights issues, to the use of recent defectors with inside knowledge, and to Radio Free Europe's focus on domestic issues.
    "Bulgarian Interior Ministry Analysis of Foreign Propaganda against Bulgaria," 1977, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Bulgarian Interior Ministry Archive, Fond 22, Record 1, Document 65. Obtained by Jordan Baev. Translated by Miroslav Vajarov. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/121496
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    https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/121496

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In 1977 the hostile propaganda against the People’s Republic of Bulgaria remained almost unchanged in terms of quantity. The broadcasts in the Bulgarian language continued from 10 radio stations from the capitalist countries and 5 from the SFRY [Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia], Albania and China, with a total duration of about 20 hours per day. A certain increase of anti-Soviet propaganda can be observed in the press in England, Austria, Greece and turkey. Similar materials, though sporadically, have appeared also in printed publications in Italy, France, the USA, turkey, China, Albania, Mexico, Belgium and other countries. […]

By using the documents from Helsinki as “law” and “legal basis” for the involvement in the internal affairs of the fraternal countries, our ideological adversaries have undertaken an unprecedented total campaign for “human rights” and for “free exchange of people, ideas and information.” The ultimate goal of this extremely strong and large-scale propaganda pressure is the implementation of Brzezinski’s doctrine of “symmetry” in détente or, in other words, the creation of a legal opposition in the countries of the socialist community and the impositions of the norms of bourgeois viewpoints and law. In their capacity as “independent sources of objective information” the subversive liberty and Free Europe radio stations are exerting huge efforts to assert the role of the USA as “the arbiter of good and evil and the moral policeman of the world,” as the United States News and World Report magazine wrote complacently in March.

After this general description of the organization, content and direction of the hostile propaganda, let us see what the relative segmentation of the various radio stations is with regard to the treatment of the most exploited topics – anti-Sovietism, “human rights” and “anti-Communism.”

The BBC radio station has been the most active in the preparation and broadcasting of materials of anti-Soviet character of a constantly increasing number. At the end of the year, the broadcasts on this topic reached 36% in the various programs. The fact that BBC is an official governmental radio station did not prevent its employees from resorting to the services of P. Semerdjiev with the series of comments “Who was Traycho Kostov?” and of the “fresh reinforcements” consisting of Vladimir and Natalia Kostov, through the broadcasting of the interviews with them. Human rights and anti-Communism formed 26% and 18% of their broadcasts, respectively.

The Voice of America radio station has commemorated the first anniversary of the coming to office of the Carter administration with a record of the materials on human rights throughout the fourth quarter, amounting to 36%. The range of the reasons used for the purposes of this “moralizing mission” was extremely broad—beginning with the dissidents and finishing with the SALT II talks. A certain decrease in propaganda noise about human rights in the broadcasting of the radio station was observed during the second quarter, when as a result of the constructive, but firm opposition of the USSR and the progressive and rationally thinking forces all over the world, a certain sobriety appeared in the activities of the Carter administration. This drop was compensated by the considerable increase of the materials related to the holding of the Belgrade summit, in which human rights were treated in the programs of the Voice of America exclusively through the prism of anti-Sovietism. In this way, soviet coverage has increased from zero at the beginning of the year, to 26% at its end. Anti-Communism was exploited within the average limits of 12% per year, which is normal for the radio station.

A relatively even distribution of the materials in terms of content and direction can be observed in the broadcasts of Deutsche Welle. The exception was only for the first quarter, when in the general campaign against real socialism, the topic of human rights had reached 35%, and anti-Sovietism and anti-Communism decreased respectively to 2 and 4%. The inclusion in the broadcasts of lectures by G. Markov and interviews with V. Kostov restored the parity, and the relative segmentation of the various topics in the emissions of Deutsche Welle was distributed as follows: anti-Sovietism 19%, anti-Communism 20%, and human rights 22%.

A characteristic of the broadcasts of the BBC, the Voice of America and Deutsche Welle was that materials with a direct anti-Bulgarian slant usually do not exceed 10 –15%. This enables us to see more clearly the general direction of the bourgeois and revisionist propaganda against real socialism, which can be seen most clearly in the relative segmentation of the various materials in the broadcasts of the three radio stations: human rights 24%, anti-Sovietism and attacks against real socialism 18% each, and anti-Communism 15%.

In general, Radio Free Europe also possesses the above-mentioned characteristics, but the majority of its broadcasts have a specific anti-Bulgarian direction. This radio station continues to be the main, most dangerous and active hostile propaganda center against the USSR and the People’s Republic of Bulgaria. This is demonstrated by the analysis of its broadcasts (the data cited are the annual average).

Radio Free Europe pays most of its attention to attempts to discredit the activity of the Bulgarian Communist Party in consolidating the principles of proletarian internationalism, the purity of Marxist-Leninist doctrine and its leading role in various areas of social and political life. In order to achieve their goals, the employees of the radio station shamelessly libeled and slandered the activities and contributions of Georgi Dimitrov in the rudest of ways. 24% of the broadcasts of Free Europe, many of which almost amount to outright instigation, attempt to incite discontent and resistance against the Party, the Komsomol and the organs of the ministry of Interior.

A constantly increasing segment of the broadcasting is made up of the programs directed against the socialist way of life. They emphasize individual weaknesses, which are presented as insoluble within the framework of the socialist social order. The employees of the radio station speculate on the shortcomings of some of our citizens and try to convince their listeners that privileges, lack of principles and corruption are inherent in socialism. The broadcasts on this topic have already reached 24% and, given the persistence and pace at which they increase, it is likely that next year they will hold the central place in the programs of Free Europe.

The third of the most exploited topics is related to the activities and policies of the Party and the government in the area of foreign and domestic politics. The various attempts to discredit and denigrate them before the broad public opinion account for 18% of the broadcasts and have been relatively equally distributed throughout the whole year. For these purposes, the massive domestic and foreign initiatives which took place in our country, as well as some changes in the Party and state apparatus, were actively used.

In a more limited number, but more constantly, the emissions of Free Europe presented in a negative light issues of our economy and culture, Bulgarian-Soviet friendship and the application of the Helsinki accords. Throughout the year their relative proportion was 10, 9, 8 and 6%, respectively. The bottom line of all of these was the claim that our friendship with the great Soviet Union will lead, and in some areas has already led, to the loss of the national identity of Bulgaria and its subjugation to ideas, lifestyle and culture which are alien to our nation. The re-orientation of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria towards the West is being presented as a solution to this problem.

Although it was in less than 1% of the broadcasts throughout the year, the employees of Free Europe have periodically raised questions about the national policy of our country towards the neighboring peoples and their minorities in our country.

In the so-called distribution of topics in the broadcasts of the radio Free Europe, materials directly addressed towards various social groups and strata did not exceed 10%, but increased attention to young people and the intelligentsia was obvious in almost all of the emissions.

In accordance with the common efforts of the enemy propaganda, the radio station made a contribution to undermining the progressive youth organizations, and attempted to inculcate a conviction in the young people of Bulgaria that specific measures had to be taken for the creation of youth and especially student organizations, which had to be “independent” from the Party.

As concerns the intelligentsia, Free Europe constantly increases its efforts to provoke and activate those artists and scientists from among the circles of the artistic and creative intelligentsia, and the scientific and technical intelligentsia, who sustain unsound positions, in an attempt to create dissident groups around them. as a catalyst of the long-expected reaction, the employees of the radio station used “civic courage and irreconcilability,” as well as the hostile acts of “dissidents” and other anti-socialist elements in the CSSR, Poland, the GDR and the USSR.

As usual until now, the main sources for the preparation of the programs of Radio Free Europe have been the publications of the Bulgarian daily and periodical press, interpreted in accordance with the goals and tasks of subversive propaganda. A number of “brains” stand out in this activity, among which a certain division of labor exists: Dimitar Bochev—dealing with the socialist way of life and the problems of the young generation, Nikolay Pavlov—social and ethical problems of the socialist way of life, Vassil Petrov and Nikola Kamenov—problems of the economy, Boris Bossilkov and Doushko Petrov—literature, religion and philosophical-ideological problems. New names started appearing during the second half of the year, such as Sergey Hristov and St. Popov.

Special attention has to be paid to the most active group of defectors—Georgi Markov, Petar Semerdjiev and Vladimir and Natalia Kostov. Their lectures and interviews are being widely used by Free Europe, Deutsche Welle and BBC. By pretending to have independent and impartial standpoints that defend the national interests of Bulgaria, they criticize and slander everything and everybody related to Bulgarian-Soviet friendship and the building of our socialist motherland. Their materials are written from the viewpoint of open and rude anti-Sovietism. I. Semerdjiev has even prepared a special series “Bulgaria, Russia and the Soviet Union,” with the purpose of libeling and slandering the relations between our countries. What is more, V. Kostov tried to provide a reason for the necessity of the existence of Free Europe as a channel through which the citizens of the socialist countries are able to receive free and credible information in the spirit of Helsinki. In support of this, Vladimir and Natalia Kostov claim in their lectures that the Bulgarians are being served one-sided information that suits the Party, and that this helps a handful of Party and state leaders in the service of the USSR to impose Bulgarian-Soviet friendship, which is nothing more than an empty slogan without any real meaning to the regular Bulgarian citizen.

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